Friday, February 15, 2008

At Home: Memory

I recently finished reading a book by a friend of mine, Jill Kelly, called Sober Truths: The Making of an Honest Woman. It is the story of one woman's struggle with addictive behaviors, a struggle I could definitely identify with.

In her book, Jill Kelly says:

"Memories are not necessarily the truth. But we tend to live with them as if they are. They create those stories, those beliefs that govern our decisions."
Anyone who has ever tried to fill an internal void by drinking or eating or shopping or any of a hundred other things has a story about that void and how it came to be there. The fears, the pain, the loneliness, the emptiness we are trying to blot out . . . and the memories that serve as our rationalization for how we choose to cope with it. Memories that grow sharper and yet more blurred around the edges the more emotional we are about them.

These memories are what I deal with in my art. Visual, visceral, emotional. And only true in the sense that I remember them and they have shaped me.

I stopped believing in absolute truths a long time ago. Truth is largely a product of time and perspective. It is almost impossible for a human being to report on an event objectively; we are hardwired to assign meaning to what we observe and experience. That said, I do my very best to be honest . . . and I find that it is an incredibly complicated thing far more frequently than I would like. Real life happens in the gray areas.

All of these thoughts have been jostling in my head as I've been thinking about the Mad/50 shrine installation over the past several weeks. Home. My memories of how it was and how I thought it should be, my longing for it, the empty place that was my lack of it, and all of the things I did to feel a sense of belonging, to feel at home, somewhere, with someone.

That sense of home and belonging is something I am only now - at 37 - beginning to feel on a regular basis, and it is still intermittent. Fleeting.


gl. said...

mmmmm... now i'm really intrigued by the mad/50 installation!

Dayna Collins said...

Bridget, I just finished reading Jill's book, too - thanks for sharing a bit about your struggles. Dayna